December 07, 2006
Bob's your moneyman

Must be nice to have sixteen million dollars to invest in political giving.

Houston home builder Bob Perry poured $16 million into state and federal races during the recent election cycle, apparently making him the biggest individual political contributor in the country for 2005-06, a money-tracking group reported Tuesday.

A legislator from San Antonio hopes the report will boost his proposal to place limits on big donors, but similar efforts have failed in the past.

Perry has been a leading political donor in Texas for several years, but the $6.7 million he gave to state candidates, mostly Republicans, and political action committees over the past two years was a 44 percent increase over 2003-04, according to Texans for Public Justice.

Additionally, he put $9.3 million into federal elections, mostly through conservative groups that bought ads attacking Democratic congressional candidates throughout the country, TPJ reported, citing Congressional Quarterly's PoliticalMoneyLine.

TPJ's full report on Perry is here. Note that he had a fairly lousy track record in 2006 - only two of his top 14 candidates won general election races, and in each case Perry had given more money to that person's GOP primary opponent (Joe Nixon $262K, Dan Patrick $55K; Mike Schofield $100K, Jim Murphy $50K). Note also that none of his Democratic benefactors was in any danger of losing his or her race. Perry gives to Republicans to make more Republicans in office. He gives to Democrats to make sure he has access to people who'd be winning without his help.

Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, has prefiled HB111 for the legislative session, which convenes in January, to limit total political contributions by one individual in state races to $100,000 per election cycle.

Villarreal sponsored a similar bill in 2005, but it died in a House subcommittee.

"I think there is more public clamor for change," he said, noting that another mega-contributor, San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a leading advocate of spending tax dollars on private school vouchers, also received much attention this year for large political donations to legislative candidates.

Under Villarreal's bill, a person could give the entire $100,000 to a single candidate or committee but would be unable to donate to anyone else.

I think there's more support for it in the Lege as well, especially now that some Republicans have taken Perry and Leininger's best shot in a primary, but it's not the breadth of the support for this kind of reform that matters. What matters is the committee chairs and the Speaker. I do not believe that legislation such as Villarreal's will go anywhere as long as Tom Craddick is running things. I'll be more than happy to be proved wrong about that, but it's not the way I'd bet.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 07, 2006 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack

Villarreal got $1000 from Perry this election cycle. Small potatoes, but interesting.

Posted by: muse on December 7, 2006 7:18 AM

Conclusion: a portion of your house payment goes to the support of government of the Perry, by the Perry, for the Perry.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on December 7, 2006 12:18 PM